Mac Games Gone Mobile

Apple launched the App Store in 2008, and mobile gaming has never been the same. There are well over 50,000 games available in the App Store, with more great new titles added every day. Many of these are exciting new games that players have never experienced before, but there are also some excellent titles that started out on the Mac and made their way to the iOS platform. This article examines some of the better titles and discusses changes made to them in the transition from a Mac to a mobile device.

Plants vs Zombies

$2.99 (iPhone/iPod touch version),; $9.99 (iPad version),

Plants Vs ZombiesIt's hard to imagine a game better suited to the iOS platform than PopCap Games' legendary classic, Plants vs Zombies. Available originally for Mac and PC, the game pits players against a steady swarm of incoming zombie invaders who'd like nothing more than to devour your tasty brains. As the player, you are tasked with planting various types of seeds, which then grow into bizarre defenses against the zombies. It's a simple formula that takes gamers back to a time when games were simple as well as fun. The iOS version of this game is perfect in nearly every way; the graphics are crisp and clear, the touch controls are responsive, and there are hours and hours of content to enjoy. The desktop version of the game has won countless awards, and the iOS release will probably follow suit; Apple even featured the game as their iTunes Rewind 2010 iPhone Game of the Year. Quite simply put, this game deserves a spot on every Mac, PC, and iOS device in the world.

Command and Conquer: Red Alert

$0.99 (iPhone/iPod touch version),; Free version,; $4.99 (iPad version),

CommandConquerIf you asked RTS (real-time strategy) fans what their favorite franchise is, many would reply, "Command and Conquer" without a moment's pause. The Command and Conquer: Red Alert series takes place in an alternate-history where Albert Einstein travels back in time to eliminate Hitler and prevent World War II. Unfortunately, his plan backfires, allowing the Soviet Union to gain massive power. The iOS version is based mostly on Red Alert 3 and its expansion.

The graphics are excellent, and the superb soundtrack that the Command and Conquer series is known for has also made its way to the iPhone. Perhaps most important of all, the controls are terrific. Selecting units and giving them orders couldn't feel more natural, and more complex tasks such as building can be executed with ease. The game also features a terrific tutorial system to help anyone who may be new to Command and Conquer or RTS games in general. It's a bit of a letdown that the iOS version doesn't more fully showcase the quirky and intricate storyline of the original. However, if you're a strategy game fan, this one definitely belongs on your iOS device.

The Sims 3


Sims3Few gamers would argue that the Sims series is king of the casual gaming genre. Regrettably, most of the mobile versions of this game lack many of the features that make the series great. When Electronic Arts released The Sims 3 for the iPhone, many fans worried that the iOS version of the game would suffer the same terrible fate. Fortunately, this time was different.

Electronic Arts did an excellent job of optimizing Sims for the iPhone, sacrificing very few of the things that make the desktop versions of the game great. The audio and graphics of the iPhone version are very good, and the controls are as close to perfect as they could be. The iOS version of The Sims 3 is an excellent package. It's great to see Electronic Arts finally get a mobile version of The Sims right!

Worms 2: Armageddon

$4.99 (all devices),

Worms2If you're a gamer, odds are good you've heard of Team 17's legendary Worms series. In these games, players control a small army of earthworms that take turns firing ridiculous weapons at each other. The first Worms title was released for the Amiga computer in the mid 1990s. Since then, the Worms franchise has been hugely successful and is now available on nearly every gaming platform. 

In 2009, Team 17 Software released Worms for the iPhone, and while it was a solid title, it lacked the full set of weapons found in versions developed for other platforms. In 2010, Team 17 released an iOS version of their latest Mac/PC release—Worms 2: Armageddon. This latest version sacrifices next-to-nothing from desktop versions. The graphics and audio are exceptional, and players have access to virtually all the wacky Worms madness found in desktop versions. Finally, I commend Team 17 for releasing both the iPhone and iPad versions of the game in a single app, rather than releasing separate versions and charging users twice for the same game.

Going the extra mile

In the not-so-distant past, developers cashed in quickly by releasing watered-down "mobile versions" of their hit franchises. The developers mentioned in this article deserve high praise for going the extra mile to make their iOS titles just as fun as their desktop brethren.

4 Great games that started on the Mac and made their way to the iOS platform
March-April 2011
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